Slide Shows

The 10 most terrifying would-be congressmen

Slide show: One may have dry-fired a gun near his ex-wife, another may have gotten away with murder

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    Jesse Kelly (Arizona, 8th District)

    In March, John McCain’s spokesman declared that the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) is “backed by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.” Evidently, that view is not shared by Jesse Kelly, the GOP hopeful who is now running neck and neck with Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona’s 8th District. Kelly has embraced ALIPAC’s endorsement and signed the ALIPAC pledge to “use the full power of my office, including impeachment if necessary” to secure the U.S. border.

    The Anti-Defamation League agrees with McCain. “White supremacists and racist skinheads have encouraged their followers to engage in activity on behalf of ALIPAC,” the ADL charged last year. The ADL has shown how ALIPAC President William Gheen portrays illegal immigrants as criminals who carry infectious diseases.

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    Allen West (Florida, 22nd District)

    “I do not have anything to do with the magazine,” West recently told the Palm Beach Post. He was referring to a ribald biker magazine called Wheels on the Road, which regularly degrades women.

    Actually, though, West, who is challenging Democrat Rep. Ron Klein, writes a monthly column for the magazine; its website lists him as a contributor — along with writers who go by Nasty, Phantom, Old Hippy, Doob and Mad Matt. Wheels on the Road routinely features photos of women exposing their breasts, and the October issue includes a rant against Florida Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz. “Someone PLEAZZZZZZZZE get rid of Debbie Wasserman Shitz,” contributor Willie Woo wrote. “That yenta annoys the crap out of me with just her whinning (sic) voice. Guys, can you just imagine banging her (UGGGGGGGGG) and she’s screaming at the top of her lungs!!!”

    In his October column in Wheels on the Road, West says he is a victim of “the politics of personal assassination.”

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    Tom Ganley (Ohio, 13th District)

    A cloud was cast over the candidacy of Ganley, who is challenging Democrat Rep. Betty Sutton, last month when a 39-year-old woman sued him for rape. Ganley’s attorney, Steve Dever, has said the plaintiff is lying for money. The suit, however, describes the woman, 30 years younger than Ganley, as a “conservative Republican and a fervent believer in Christian family values.”

    According to the complaint, Ganley invited the woman to his office after meeting her at a Tea Party rally last summer. Ganley, who runs a network of auto dealerships, allegedly offered the woman free car repairs, a lower interest rate on her van, and dangled out the possibility of a job at one of his dealerships. At a subsequent meeting in his office in August, the GOP candidate allegedly told the plaintiff he wanted to leash her and have sex with her while others watched. When she resisted, she claims, Ganley then grabbed her, kissed her, stuck his tongue in her mouth and “rubbed her crotch and then stuck his hand down the front of her pants attempting to penetrate her vagina.” The complaint adds that, “Ganley was moaning, making noises, and he had a contorted and disgusting look on his face.”

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    Renee Ellmers (North Carolina, 2nd District)

    Ellmers is, for the most part, a standard-issue Tea Party-backed Republican. But she distinguished herself over the summer with an ad that viciously attacked her opponent, Rep. Bob Etheridge, for not speaking out more strongly against the planned Islamic community center near ground zero. The ad’s narrator talked about “the Muslims,” “the terrorists” and the organizers of the community center interchangeably, as if they were the same. Ellmers later defended the spot and called the community center a “victory mosque.” She also said: “Well, I’m not anti-Muslim. As a nurse, I’ve taken care of people of all races, creeds and colors and respected all their traditions. What I am is pro-American.”

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    Jeff Perry (Massachusetts, 10th District)

    Perry, a state legislator and former police officer who is seeking to become the first Republican to win a House election in Massachusetts since 1994, was once involved in a strip-search scandal.

    Perry was present on May 22, 1991, when officer Scott Flanagan searched a 14-year-old girl for drugs by putting “his hand inside her underpants along her body,” according to a civil complaint later filed. Flanagan then ordered her to expose her breasts. In another incident on Dec. 31, 1992, Flanagan ordered a 16-year-old girl to pull down her pants and lift up her shirt, according to a different complaint. A civilian witness intervened. No drugs were found in either incident.

    In that second strip search, Perry was not present, but he was the shift supervisor, and the girl’s parents say that he went to their house that night and threatened them in an effort to keep them quiet. Perry resigned from the police force in June 1993. Flanagan pleaded guilty in 1994 for violating the girls’ rights in both cases and for indecent assault of a child.

    Of the ’92 incident, Perry told the Boston Globe, “I did what I think is good police work.”

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    Brad Zaun (Iowa, 3rd District)

    Zaun, who is seeking to oust Rep. Leonard Boswell, seems to be prone to “highly emotional moments.” That’s how he described his behavior early one morning in April 2001. Zaun was then the mayor of Urbandale and, according to police reports, he showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s house shortly after midnight and pounded on her windows. “Brad yelled from outside calling her slut and other names,” the police report says.

    Zaun, the report also states, had harassed the woman with repeated telephone calls and showed up at her home uninvited because he had “not accepted the relationship being over.” No charges were filed, but the record shows police ordered Zaun to stay away from the woman. Zaun told the Des Moines Register, “I am a human being. I never claimed to be perfect. It was a highly emotional moment and I used poor judgment.”

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    Austin Scott (Georgia’s 8th District)

    Scott, a member of the state legislature, could well unseat Rep. Jim Marshall, a four-term incumbent. Like most Republicans this cycle, he has made the economy and cutting government spending the centerpieces of his campaign. But he’s also pushing a novel idea to achieve smaller government: mandatory drug testing for those Americans who receive unemployment. “I think you start with common-sense legislation, like if you fail a drug test, then you shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer-funded benefits,” he told one newspaper.

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    Scott DesJarlais (Tennessee, 4th District)

    DesJarlais, who is battling Rep. Lincoln Davis, may get the prize for the most disturbing divorce-related revelation of this campaign season. After digging up DesJarlais’ decade-old divorce records, Roll Call found that his ex-wife, Susan, accused her husband in November 2000 of “dry firing a gun outside the plaintiff’s locked bedroom door, admission of suicidal ideation, holding a gun in his mouth for three hours, an incident of physical intimidation at the hospital; and previous threatening behavior … i.e. shoving, tripping, pushing down, etc.” DesJarlais’ campaign manager, Brent Leatherwood, has said the allegations are “false and the court ruled there was no validity to any of them.”

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    Ilario Pantano (North Carolina, 7th District)

    An ex-Marine and former New Yorker who calls himself a “born-again Christian and a born-again Southerner,” Pantano is taking on incumbent Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre. The GOP candidate became a hero on the right after a 2004 incident in Iraq in which he killed two unarmed prisoners — firing up to 60 rounds at them from close range, then placing a sign with a Marine slogan next to their bodies. Murder charges were later dropped. Notably, he has made fighting the “ground zero mosque” a centerpiece of his campaign, and has accepted the endorsement of bigoted anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller.

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    Ben Quayle (Arizona, 3rd District)

    The 33-year-old son of the former vice president released a notorious ad over the summer in which he solemnly faced the camera and called Barack Obama “the worst president in history.” That helped him win the GOP primary, but he’s been dogged by his ties to Dirty Scottsdale, a salacious website (and the predecessor to that focuses on sex and nightlife in the Arizona city. The founder of the site alleges that Quayle was a regular commenter who used the handle Brock Landers, a reference to a porn star in “Boogie Nights.” Quayle initially denied but then acknowledged that he wrote on the site (but he maintains Brock Landers was not his handle). His opponent has hit Quayle on his ties to the site, citing a comment by Landers: “He denied writing a sex-steeped column for, then admitted he had. No wonder Quayle once said, ‘My moral compass is so broken, I can barely find the parking lot.’ “